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Rajinder confident of good showing
July 10, 2004 13:19 IST
The Indian hockey team's performance may have deteriorated in recent months but coach Rajinder Singh sounded upbeat about their chances in the Athens Olympics before departing for Germany on Saturday morning.
"There is no pressure on any player or coach. The moral of the team is also high," he told reporters at the Indira Gandhi airport in New Delhi.
The Indian team left for Germany on a training cum competition tour in which it will participate in a four-nation tournament starting from July 16. They will also play against some European clubs in the tune-up for the Athens Olympics.
Apart from India, hosts Germany, France and England will take part in the tournament which will serve as the basis for selection of the final team for the Olympics.
The Indian team was sent for a special training in the U.S. last month.
But a dismal show in the four-nation event in Holland after the camp resulted in sacking of two members of the team's support staff -- assistant coach Harendra Singh and goalkeeping coach M R Negi.
Rajinder, however, was not willing to read much into the defeats in Holland saying one should not give much importance to them.
"In modern day hockey any team can beat the other on a given day and hence one should not be overtly worried about the defeats in Holland."
Experienced forward Baljeet Singh Dhillon was also not prepared to give much importance to the performance in Holland.
"We were playing together after a long time and hence the combination could not work properly.
"But now we will be playing many matches against the club sides and also in the four-nation tournament which will help us get into the rhythm before the Olympics."
Star striker Gagan Ajit Singh, however, admitted that the defeats in Holland, where India lost all its matches, had an "depressing" effect on the members of the team.
"But after the break and the encouragement received from IHF president K P S Gill and supporters, we are all feeling refreshed and raring to go."
India won four titles in 2003 including it's maiden triumph in the Asia Cup but since then the performance of the team has been on the decline.
Critics and former players have blamed the IHF's policy of experimentation for the team's debacle in the run up to the Olympics.